Kid Cudi: Life After Death (2013 Cover Story)

Kid Cudi: Life After Death (2013 Cover Story)By Joe LaPuma (@JLaPuma); Photography by JUCO; Click Here For Additional Credits.

You called yourself the “Bane of Hip-Hop” and “Hip-Hop’s Villain: Leader of the Delinquents.” What makes these roles so enjoyable for you?
There are so many dynamics to a villain. Who are we to say they’re villains? They’re just people who see things in a different way and go to the extreme to show us how things should be. Hip-hop needs a wake-up call. I don’t think hip-hop is terrible, or it’s dead and all that bullshit. It’s better than it’s been in a long time. It’s just some industry shit. It’s super weak. Nobody’s authentic.

That’s good for me because when I do my shit, it makes me look like the greatest musician alive—and I’m not. I’m just doing what we should all be doing. I’m using the same drums everyone else uses, same synths, sometimes the same samples. I see things in my own way and execute them that way. Nobody really does that. People ask, “What’s going to sell? What’s going to do this or what’s going to do that?” It’s weak. Most people are pussies.


I’m not stressing about my pop being gone anymore. You gotta move on. I have those memories, those 11 years I could remember. He was awesome. Dealing with him not being around to see my daughter and see me be a father has been hard though.


Who has been the most instrumental person in your career besides yourself?
I’m inspired by everyone around me. There isn’t one person. I learned how to make beats by being around Dot Da Genius, Kanye, Pat, and Emile. No one taught me anything, but I watched them and they didn’t know I was watching. I was learning when I didn’t even know I was learning. Then, when I started to make my own shit, I was like, “Whoa, this feels like I’ve been making beats my whole life.” I used to make beats as a kid, so I was always fucking around with the shit—never to this magnitude though.

Has producing re-energized you musically?
Yeah. It’s like recording in my house all over again. It’s the excitement of creating something, just letting out so much aggression on the drums and doing these intricate moments in the beat to make it mine. I can pinpoint the first time I heard my voice recorded on tape. I was like, “Wow, I sound like that?” Now, I’m making these beats and I’m like, “Wow, I made that?” I can’t believe I made “Just What I Am,” but I did. No mistake. That was me playing all that shit.

Every artist has moments where they get discouraged. You want to keep growing and pushing yourself. Before, it was the guitar. After that, I needed to explore producing. I told Chip I was making beats, and on Father’s Day he got me a Maschine as a gift. I never would’ve gone out and bought this. That’s what got me going. Now kids can listen to the music and see my skill rapping and my music, too. Before, it was, “I love these niggas’ beats that he’s rapping on.” Now it’s, “Oh he got the illest raps on the illest beats that he made.” That’s a double whammy.

Last year you tweeted about how your Wikipedia page talks about your father’s death, and how that impacted you and your music.
Whoever wrote that is so ill. It was like the first sentences of a legendary story. I’m not stressing about my pop being gone anymore. You gotta move on. I have those memories, those 11 years I could remember. He was fucking awesome. Dealing with him not being around to see my daughter and see me be a father has been hard though. These things were happening in my life where I was like, “Man, I wish my pops was here to see this.”

I never had those thoughts before fame, when my life was just a regular life. I wasn’t saying, “I wish my dad could be around and see me working at Applebee’s.” [Laughs.] It was a bummer, especially with all these extreme things that have been happening in the past couple years. I know he’s got my back and I can’t turn back the hands of time. So it’s all good.

You mentioned that you and your mom were talking about giving your father a proper burial.
We didn’t have any money when my dad died. I knew we didn’t have much, but goddamn. I didn’t know it was like that. My mom revealed to me that the casket wasn’t sealed tight. She said my father’s not there, like there’s nothing. It was hard to hear my mom say that. She wasn’t being cold, because I’m an adult. It was a reality check. She kept saying that wasn’t him down there, don’t even trip.

It’s a heavy thing but you turned it into a positive. That doesn’t define him.
Yeah, we’re shells for a while and then you go somewhere else. No one knows, but I believe that.

You believe in life after death?
I believe in something. I hope that it doesn’t just end. I’m hopeful that there’s a “to be continued.”

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